5 March 2007

Florida Restorer Can Tune a Car & a Trombone

Commercial photographer Tom Jevcek’s “Classic Photography” business in Tampa, Fla., is aptly named. Tom is heavily involved in various facets of the hobby from organizing the Mount Dora Concours d’ Elegance to maintaining a collection of antiques and vintage sports cars. He is fussiest when it comes to having work done on his prewar and postwar MGs. “There’s only one person I’ll ever let touch the cars,” Tom told us recently. “His name is Glenn Lenhard.”

Small world! I actually met Glenn Lenhard about five years ago when 30 of the top personalities in the MG world gathered at John Twist’s shop in Ada, Mich., to form the British Motor Trade Association. But meeting Glenn in a large group and receiving an expert’s personal recommendation of his work are two different things. So we thought a closer look at his business was in order.

Glenn Lenhard started fixing cars in 1973, right after graduating high school in Rochester, N.Y. He worked at independent repair shops and new-car dealerships there and in Florida. In 1979 he opened Bay Imports in St. Petersburg, which he ran until late 1991. When business died down during the Gulf War, Lenhard sold out to his partner and went to work at Wayne Purdy European Motors in Clearwater, Fla.

Because he fixed British sports cars, Lenhard had bumped into John Twist, a man considered a “guru” in the MG hobby. Lenhard’s MG Repair actually grew from a comment Lenhard made to Twist while he was still operating Bay Imports. “I wish I could specialize just in MG repairs,” Lenhard mused, and then Twist asked him, “Why can’t you?”

Today, the business operates in a 5,000 sq. ft. repair facility with a fenced-in compound located on a cul-de-sac in a residential/business neighborhood. The shop has a secure and well-lit parking area, plenty of indoor storage and several modern repair bays. Lenhard holds a Certified Master Automobile Technician certificate issued by the Automotive Service Excellence organization, plus an ASE Advanced Driveability and Diagnostics certificate.

Lenhard’s shop is separated into five distinct rooms that help him segregate the restoration work from other jobs. The front room has an office and a waiting room. The next area is general repair and service shop where everyday repairs are performed. The third room includes the new parts department and engine-building area. This is also where restoration projects are dismantled and re-assembled after body repairs are completed. The rear room is the body shop, where two full-time experts perform sheet metal repairs and fabrications. It also houses the body-and-paint preparation area. Lastly, there is a paint booth in a room large enough to hold an entire car in its dismantled form. This allows all of the body panels to be removed for painting, inside and out, at the same time.

Lehnard says that he is most interested in helping MG enthusiasts "maintain the breed.” He often invites clubs to tour his facility and has done “tech sessions” to teach hobbyists specific repairs. The shop is dedicated to keeping the MGs that are brought to the shop in top shape. It doesn’t really matter whether the car is a daily driver or a fully-restored show car. In order to specialize in MGs, the shop tries to attract all the marque enthusiasts it can.

In addition to service work, major repairs and restorations, Lenhard maintains an inventory of cars for sale. These range from parts donors to some very nice cars. Not all the MGs at Lenhard’s business are roadsters. “We had 14 cars in the shop one day recently,” he said. “They ranged from T-Series MGs to three Magnettes, a 1100 and a Farina. The occasional Austin-Healey Bug-Eye Sprite shows up too. But, MGAs and MGBs tend to be most prominent.”

In addition to fixing cars, Lenhard is actively involved in the St. Pete community. He is also a professional musician and is currently entering his 20th season as Principal Trombonist of the Tampa Bay Symphony. He is also a freelance musician, playing for local jazz bands, big bands, dinner theaters and church groups. For hours or more information, contact Glenn's MG Repair at 888-521-9890 or Glenn@GlennsMG.com.

John "Gunner" Gunnell is the automotive books editor at Krause Publications in Iola, Wis., and former editor of Old Cars Weekly and Old Cars Price Guide.

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